The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

April 11, 2012
California pension crusader says accusers embezzled money

Thumbnail image for 110504 Fritz.JPGMarcia Fritz, perhaps the most public face of California's public pension reform movement, has answered a lawsuit that she violated labor laws and failed to contribute to former employees' retirement accounts -- and filed a civil complaint of her own claiming her accusers embezzled thousands from the accounting firm she once owned.

In documents filed in Sacramento Superior Court last week, Fritz says that Colleen and Tannith Mitchell, a mother and daughter who used to work for Citrus Heights-based accounting firm Marcia Fritz & Co. cost the the company more than $50,000 by giving themselves unearned bonuses and cash advances and running up unauthorized purchases.

As the company's office manager, Colleen Mitchell also was responsible for payroll, according to Fritz's cross-complaint, and failed to make timely payments into the employee retirement accounts.

The Mitchells' attorney, Peter McEntee, said that Fritz's counter-claims are bogus.

"We think it's retaliation for attempting to enforce my clients' labor code rights," McEntee said in a telephone interview this morning.

The Mitchells sued Fritz for failing to make timely payment into employee retirement savings accounts after the contributions were withheld from their paychecks. They also allege she didn't pay them for overtime work, failed to provide meal and rest breaks and still owes them wages for work performed before they left the company last year.

RELATED POST: Citrus Heights pension reformer sued for not contributing to retirement accounts

"Before filing the lawsuit, neither of them had ever complained to me about meal breaks or rest breaks," Fritz said in an e-mailed statement to The State Worker, "or suggested that they had not been paid what they were entitled to receive."

Click here to read the court filing that details Fritz's response to the Mitchells' lawsuit. Her cross-complaint is embedded below. Both were filed April 4.

Fritz Cross-complaint filed April 4, 2012

PHOTO: Marcia Fritz testifies at a committee hearing on pensions. / Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee, 2011

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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